Tell us about your venue’s programming policy.
We are interested primarily in dance, new writing, immersive and physical theatre, performance for Early Years, comedy and music. We do host occasional spoken word events but primarily where there is a link to a strong theme or with a demonstrable local following. Overall my job is to always programme with the venue, its priorities and audiences in mind.
We will actively seek to bring the most exciting and dynamic small-scale companies who are beginning to make a name for themselves at events like Edinburgh Festival Fringe or other showcases. We will prioritise high quality work that is created by disabled people or companies committed to inclusion and access. In the coming four years it is likely that we may wish to develop long-term, repeat visits from particular high quality inclusive companies linked to our outreach work. This will be a balance of local and national companies.
We work closely with the local major festivals such as Leicester Comedy Festival, Spark and Literary Leicester to select work that reflects their ethos – timing our programming to reflect their festival dates.
Do you programme your venue within seasons or do you offer a rolling programme?
Our brochures are produced seasonally but I will programme beyond that season if necessary. Brochure seasons breakdown as follows:
Autumn/Winter (September to January) – I’m booking this season beween January and April.
Spring/Summer (February to August) brochure – I’m booking this season between May and September.
This is only a guide. We do have some commitments in the diary about a year in advance.
How is it best for theatre-makers/companies to contact you about programming their work in the first instance?
It’s best to email me.
Do you love or hate speaking to theatre-makers/companies over the phone?
I hate it! My ringtone fills me with dread.
Have do you feel about theatre-makers/companies pursuing programming conversations with you via social media?
As long as it’s through Linkedin, and on the understanding I only check this in normal work hours, then that is fine.
Should theatre-makers/companies get in touch to come and meet you for a cuppa?
Yes! I’m always happy to meet if I can.
Is there a specific day of the week or month when you work on responding to programming enquiries?
Will you reply to every programming enquiry you receive (whether by email, telephone or post)?
I can’t reply to everything. If it’s a no, but something specifically comes to mind such as try again in the future or suggestions of other places to approach, I try and reply.
After their initial contact, how long should theatre-makers/companies leave before following up with another email or telephone call?
If I haven’t responded, I’m not able to programme the artist at this time and they shouldn’t follow up.
During an initial programming enquiry, what details do you need to help you make an informed decision?
Give me a full tour pack. If a tour pack isn’t ready, give me as much information as possible. Think about how it fits into an AAC programme both technically and within the other work we present. And tell me how much it’s going to cost!
Do you find it helpful or off-putting when theatre-makers/companies gives you the price of their touring work upfront?
I find it helpful. It’s a critical part of being booked into our programme. If it doesn’t fit financially, ultimately we can’t host you.
Do you pay any attention to media reviews/stars included in a programming approach?
Not really, I think people can play a bit fast and loose with reviews so I don’t really rely on them.
Do you pay any attention to audience comments and voxpops included in a programming approach?
Do you pay any attention to testimonials from other programmers and industry professionals included in a programming approach?
Yes, if they’re from people I know and trust.
Do you actually find time to go and see performances you are invited to?
In general no, but I have found it easier recently to watch shows when footage is sent — it’s getting out to venues which is an issue.
Do you find time to go to see industry showcases, sharings and scratches?
Yes if applicable to the venue and I am available — which isn’t very often.
Should Artists invite you to see their work (including full performances and work-in-progress sharings)?
Depends on when and where it is. My availability is limited.
How far in advance should they invite you along?
Try to give me a month.
If you do attend performances and work-in-progress sharings, are daytimes or evenings best for you?
How far would you be prepared to travel to see work?
Widely. As long as I can get home at a reasonable hour by public transport.
Do you usually go to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to help programme your venue?
Someone from the team tries to go each year. We also have artists we trust who we may ask to see something on our behalf. We tend to find post-touring Edinburgh doesn’t line up with our availability.
When should theatre-makers/companies invite you so you can plan your Excel spreedsheet of shows to see?
As early as possible, but don’t worry too much if you’re at Edinburgh and reading this: still send something through. We try to plan in advance but will try to be flexible where possible.
Do you (or a trusted colleague) need to have seen work LIVE before considering it for your programme?
No, we don’t need to have seen their work live. It’s good to see filmed extracts/highlights as well as recordings of the full show.
Do you have an example of a really good approach from a theatre-maker/company which made you book the show even though you hadn’t already seen it ?
The Little Earthquake approach for I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost covered pretty much everything, including who else venue-wise they were contacting. It gave me an idea of how AAC fitted into their thinking.